May 2, 2011

A sonnet to a house sparrow

Oh, for a sparrow's dream to build a nest
When Spring comes forth to claim a feathered heart.
This take of space and hole and tree is test
Of purpose keen when speed is want ov'r art.

Sings loud the male to cheer his busy mate,
As tattered shreds of blades of old are teased
Into a bowl to rest and incubate,
Then feed and grow and fledge, last pause, well pleased.

But for the will of hands of mine, intent
To save said nest for birds of sheen more blue.
Our sparrow starts once ov'r to pay the rent
Of love besought, but not denied, so true.

A plain brown blur in bush and nest reminds
Love of blue birds may cause to miss Divine.

L. Powell, Lincoln, NE   
Watching house sparrows take over a nest box intended for bluebirds or chickadees.  After one attempt to clear the box, I decided to let birds do what birds do.  

Image courtesy of the Texas Bluebird Society, which captioned it "this non-native bird must not be allowed to nest." 

A side note: my PhD co-advisor, Dr. David Krementz is well-known for his support of sparrows in bluebird boxes.  As the Omaha Audubon newsletter writes, regarding the practice of removing sparrows from nest boxs intended for bluebirds:   "Still, there are those--such as David Krementz, a wildlife biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in Athens, Ga.--who believe house sparrows have as much right to live as bluebirds. Bluebird enthusiasts are "playing God," says [D]r. Krementz, who studied house sparrows for his Ph.D. thesis and learned to "like everything about them." He adds that house sparrows have subtle but interesting coloration, animated mating behavior and feed on Japanese beetles, moths, wasps, crab grass and ragweed.

"[D]r. Krementz has infuriated bluebird lovers by setting out nesting boxes to attract house sparrows and starlings, which he uses in his field research. But he practices a live-and-let-live philosophy that he thinks bluebird devotees might well follow. "When I got bluebirds in my starling boxes, I let them be," he says. "I didn't pull their heads off or gas them." "

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